'We’re a wolf pack' - Three Irish boxers make it to finals in Minsk

'We’re a wolf pack' - Three Irish boxers make it to finals in Minsk
Kellie Harrington. Pic: Sportsfile

Kurt Walker, Kellie Harrington and Michaela Walsh will all box for gold medals in Minsk.

Belfast featherweight Walsh beat Russian featherweight Daria Abramova in her semi-final earlier today.

Walker beat British bantamweight Peter McGrail to reach the men's bantamweight final, while Harrington was a unanimous decision victor over Sweden's Agnes Alexiusson to reach the women's lightweight final.

The Dubliner will face Mira Potkonen, the Finn that beat Katie Taylor in at the Rio Olympics, in Sunday's final.

However, Offaly welterweight Grainne Walsh will settle for bronze after defeat to Poland's Karolina Koszewska.

Today’s opening round battle was a masterclass from Harrington as she dominated the bout from the off, landing some key blows and pushing Alexiusson onto the back foot early on.

Harrington’s momentum carried into the second round, as she continued to box strong and keep firm control of proceedings. A fight back from the Swede in the third was not enough, as Harrington took home the unanimous decision win in the end to advance to the final and the battle for gold.

Harrington said afterwards: “I’m feeling great. I’m in the final. The best thing about it is we’re a wolf pack, I’m not a lone wolf, we’re a wolf pack, we are all here as a team, we’re all medalling and it’s fantastic.

"Irish boxing is well and truly alive."

“I haven’t had a fight since February so to come out here now and be in a European final that’s just – this is what dreams are made of. I have, I think, nearly every medal now. This is just fantastic for a girl out of Dublin 1.”

Walker progressed to his final after a stand-out performance against McGrail, winning out on a 3-2 split decision. This evening’s win was Walker’s second successive victory over the British boxer and the pair dished up another thrilling and close encounter, with Walker challenged at every turn.

He said: “Again, it was so tough, he’s so good tactically. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the coaches telling me my game plan honestly.

"I wasn’t doing some things right which I should have been doing but I got the decision and I’m delighted.

“It’s unbelievable. Four years ago, I was put out in the first fight and now I’m in the final – hard work, it really does help.”

There was disappointment for both Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin in their respective bouts this evening, with Buckley shaded by a 3-2 split decision to lose out to Artur Hovhannisyan of Armenia, while there was heartbreak for Michael Nevin as he was knocked out in the opening round by Italian Salvatore Cavallaro. Both Buckley and Nevin will take home bronze medals to Ireland this weekend.

Buckley fought hard early on, winning the first round well before Hovhannisyan responded in kind in the second. A tough fought third round followed, but Hovhannisyan again looked to have the edge, and the judges deemed him the winner by a 3-2 split decision.

“It was a real battle, it was a very good fight,” Buckley said afterwards.

“I think the first round I boxed very well, I was kind of controlling the distance very well with the jab and caught him with some lovely shots.

"The second round, I thought I’d done enough to get it and the third round, I just got into his fight a little bit too much, kind of standing toe-to-toe with a smaller guy, it wasn’t really working out - my punches were going over his head.

“But look, we’ll go back to the drawing board and we’ll go from there. This is my first major international so it’s great experience for me, win, lose or draw. I’m very happy with the bronze medal, I trained very hard for this competition and it would have been nice to come home with the win, but I was switching off small bits in the ring and that’s what I need to work on in future.”

In track cycling Orla Walsh and Marc Potts were in action. Walsh finished 10th in the Women’s Scratch Race, and Potts was 11th in the Men’s Points Race, where he finished on 8th points. Potts attacked several times looking to gain a lap, but nothing stuck.

Earlier< Chloe and Sam Magee secured Ireland's seventh medal of the games with a quarter-final win over the Netherlands in the mixed doubles badminton.

The Donegal siblings will face the number 1 seeds of Great Britain in tomorrow's semi-finals.

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